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August 29, 2011

The PPs welcome one of our own: KAT BALDWIN

Act it out loud!

You’re gutsy women inviting me to blog with you here on Plotting Princesses…
because you all know I’m a notorious Pantser.  Perhaps I can play the villain of the group.  Heh, heh, heh, picture me twirling my moustache (which won’t go away despite getting lasered.)

Originally, I’d intended to tell you about my fun Tween fantasy: IF WISHES WERE KISSES, which was scheduled to be released soon from, but my agent recently pulled the book and is considering it for traditional publishing possibilities.  We will see what happens.  She is a marvelous agent, so I bow to her judgment on the matter.

Plotting by Committee
I collaborated with another author on IF WISHES WERE KISSES, mystery writer, Andrea Sisco. Imagine if you will, two Pantsers trying to write a book together.  Yikes! It was a challenging process. Fortunately, Andrea Sisco and I have been friends for a very long time.  Even more remarkably, we stayed friends through the collaborative process.

We began the writing process by getting together in her hotel room for a brainstorming session and had a truly fun-filled, wild, crazy, brainstorming day.  It was sooo much fun.  I love brainstorming.

Andrea is a crazy blonde with more energy than a two year old on a sugar high.  She acted out scenes, jumped on the bed to illustrate our fairy heroine flying, she hid behind the curtains, and pretty much put on a one woman show.  I wish I had a movie.  But here’s her author photo. Note the mischief in her eyes. 

You should’ve seen my skinny friend acting out the part of an elephant walking down a fashion show runway.  Hilarious, even though it didn’t make it into the book.  The minute I would say, “Well, maybe needs this to be different.”  Andrea would say, “Okay, how about this…” And off she’d go acting out a whole new scenario.  Did I mention Andrea’s worked as an actress?  Yep.

Play with Purpose - Remember when you were a kid acting out stories.  Maybe you and your friends played with Barbie’s. Or maybe you ran around outside playing cops and robbers with your brothers. You were acting out stories, figuring out interesting scenarios. Andrea brought back all the fun of that to me.

Here’s your nugget for the day. Act it out loud. 

Too often we sit at our keyboards in a foggy haze of our own imagining, a soap bubble world that needs tested with the pinprick of reality.  Things that seem right on the screen may be complete hog-swill in real life.  Get up move around. Act out your scene.  Discover first hand what feels real and what feels like cornflakes.

Thank you for inviting me to blog with you. 


Gretchen Craig said...

You make collaboration sound like fun, much more fun that sitting down alone to try to fit ideas into some chart of acts and ups and downs and crises and resolutions. Next time you and your buddy collaborate, I want to be a fairy hiding in the curtains to watch the fun.
Can't wait to read the book.

Addison said...


What a fun, creative experience. I think it's often so easy to forget the silly part of ourselves when sitting behind a desk tapping away on a computer, but what a great idea to get up and engage in what you're doing!!!


Laurie said...

A newbie here. What is the most difficult part of a collaboration?

Becky said...

Do you think it's easier to plot some things by acting it out? It's a visual thing so I wonder if that makes it easier?

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Hi Gretchen!
Thanks for stopping by. Yes, you'd get a kick out of watching it. It would make a great promo video.
Next time I'll hide a camera in the room. Andrea's a hoot to work with. Wildly out of the box and fun.

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Hi Addison!

Good to see you here! Yes, I highly recommend it - it's fun and helps me get the scenes feeling more real.

But you don't have any trouble with that. Your scenes are great!

Pamela Stone said...

Hi Kat,

Wow, you started my morning off with some fantastic memories of running around my grandparents' house playing pretend games with my cousin. I am a very visual person, but I've not really tried to act out a scene while writing. Fun idea. If you hide that camera next time, I'd love to see it.

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Hi Laurie!
Good question. I think every writing team has unique obstacles. One of ours was distance. We live in different states.

It might be easier for some teams who are able to work side by side as many successful collaborative teams do. We didn't have that option. So we spent alot of time on the phone.

Also, as with most teams, it helps to have a team captain. Andrea was very accommodating on this. Which could've been a problem for some writers. She gave my domineering writer brain freedom to act. She is fabulously creative - an instant latte machine - bubbling over with ideas.
So I never felt alone in the writing. That's one of the really good parts of collaborating.

Maybe the hardest part is developing a collaborative voice. I know some teams do it. But mine just kept trying to takeover. Mainly because I was at the keyboard. Andrea has a strong voice, too, and hers is in there, you can really see it in the flow of action.

Andrea Sisco said...

Hi, this is Andrea Sisco here. Great post, Kat. Seriously, I'm not as funny as she says I am. I just happen to view the world a bit differently than most people. I get a lot of 'stuff' from my family. We're a bit wacky.

I'm going to take a crack at Laurie's question and then perhaps, Kat can add her view.

For me the most difficult thing is time. I think it's important to flesh the new book out in a face-to-face setting. We were fortunate that I could be in Dallas and we were able to spend the day together. We already had a germ of an idea and it went from there.

From then on, it was telephone calls, more calls and more calls followed by email.

We really didn't argue about anything (or have I forgotten? Like the pain of childbirth everyone tells you you will forget but don't?). If either of us felt strongly about something, the other took that into consideration and bowed to their 'gut' feeling.

Andrea Sisco said...

I'll be back to tackle Becky's question after I play Esther Williams (for those of you who are really old, you'll know who she is. For all others, it's google time).

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Hi Becky!

Another great question!

Acting out a scene is visual, auditory, AND tactile.
So, yes, if you happen to be a kinetic learner (hands-on) this is a perfect way for you to get really in touch with your scene.
For me, it's the absolute easiest way to get an action scene right.

(And there were lots of action scenes in this book) Andrea thrives on action. I'm the emotional angst girl - and Andi keeps things moving.

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Hi Pam!

(Me waving at computer screen) I can just picture you dashing around your grandma's acting out fun scenarios.

It may be part of why you are such a good writer!

Chris K said...

good heavens y'all are up awfully early in the morning LOL.

okay- as a diehard card carrying pantser - I would most definitely be the one on the sidelines with a pen and paper scribbling madly as everyone else prances around the hotel room with great ideas.

I agree - brainstorming is a blast - when the princesses get together and fling ideas at me I write as fast as I can and pray I can read my own chicken scratch the next day!!!

To me some ideas 'feel' right and those are the ones i run with when I finally have my fingers on the keyboard.

of course now that the bar has been set a little higher - I'll be expected more 'animation' from our next brainstorming session : )

jo robertson said...

Hi, Kat, swinging over from the Romance Bandits to check out your very interesting blog topic!

I like the tactile facet of your brainstorming! Sounds like lots of fun and productive too.

Phyllis said...

Good Morning, Kat! I love your post. It brought back memories of playing acting spy and army when I was younger. I continued to act through school and several years after in Community Theater.

The most I've "acted" out a scene is through dialogue. I’ll play both parts to see if it sounds right. Now, I will go as far as to out and find places that will fit a scene for my scene description. Like,…that alley will be perfect for whatever scene and I will go down the alley, taking pictures, listening to the sounds of it, smelling the stench from overflowing dumpster and putting all those things down on paper…that sort of thing.

I am very much a visual writer…I put down on paper the movie scene I see in my head.

Andrea Sisco said...

Becky, I'm visual and tactile so it's acting out is a great way for me to make sure the detail (not just the overview) are correct. Hey, I get a bit of exercise also.

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Hi Jo!

Thanks for coming over from Romance Bandits! I love that blog!

Acting out is an instinctual storyteller trait. It's often supressed in adults. But I'm sure you've seen the hand gestures, subtle posture shifts, and voice inflections of a good storyteller.

They want their audience to SEE the story. Acting helps us find the right words to show the story.

When I work with kids I often have them act out their stories.

When I was in sixth grade Annette Cooke and I planned to be famous writers when we grew up. During lunch recess we would climb through an open window into an abandoned classroom and act out our stories. We wrote pages and pages of dialogue and action.

Fun stuff, I think it's when I really fell in love with writing. Educational, until one day grouchy ole Mr. Dahl caught us climbing in the window and sent us to the principal's office.

After that the window was locked.

Patricia said...

I loved your post because it brings to mind how I visualize the scenes in my novels - like a television show. I love to watch movies and when I'm writing I see my characters as if on the screen in a theater or at home on the HD t.v. - you get what I mean. In this way (for me) they seem more real and I can describe how they look and the movements they make because I "see" them in front of me. I've read a lot lately about getting out of our writer bubble, into the outside world, in order to watch people and listen to them talk in order to make our characters and dialogue more "real". I think your suggestion of "acting it out" is another great way of making it "real".

Patience said...

What a good idea to act out a scene! I'll remember that little tidbit when I get stuck.
I can't wait until "If Wishes were Kisses" comes out.

Kathy Ivan said...

I'm late to the party today, but welcome to Kat and Andrea for being with the Plotting Princesses today. I know about half of the Princesses claim they aren't plotters, but to me that's half the fun. Brainstorming ideas and scenarios, seeing what works and what doesn't work. Finding that perfect balance so that what goes on the page comes across in excitement for the reader.

I have to admit, though, I never actually thought about acting out my scenes before. What a unique idea! I can go into my office, close the door and prance about to my heart's content. It'll be great. (Plus that way nobody can laugh). LOL

Great blog post, Kat.

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Hi, Kat-kiss, kiss and welcome to Andrea!

I like your idea and often do dialogue outloud just to make sure it sounds legit.

I'd love to see your collaboration video, too. lol

Liz Lipperman said...

Okay, here comes dull and boring to this party. I am a total PLOTTER. I don't actually act out scenes, but I do play them in my head as I'm getting ready to plot out my mysteries.

I also get excited about certain scenes, and sometimes I even crack myself up. That's about as animated as I get. I told you--boring.

Love your ideas, though.

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

LOLOL, Liz Lip is never boring. And I thought she is a plotster?

Andrea Sisco said...

Liz, that's not boring it's great. I often talk out my scenes/dialogue also. I'm not romping about the room all of the time. I'm too old.

Susan Fisher Anderson said...

Hello All,
One of the most frequent comments I get (and I think many of us do) from my critique group is: Need more emotion, physical reaction. By actually doing the motions, I become more in tune to the emotion my characters are feeling. This is especially important when I'm writing a stage or screen play (which I've been doing more lately). It helps bring the characters to life. They become more than just dialog on a page when I investigate how they would move through a room and react to other characters and situations.

Loretta Wheeler said...


I loved this:) I don't know how many times I've had to "stand and deliver" (role play a situation) and drag my husband into it with me. One time, we were doing an attack scene and forgot to shut the blinds. The whole thing was lovely...can you IMAGINE what people thought if they happened to take a look?
The acting out really helped me understand how the scene should move though...;) you could say it really hauled @ss!:)
Enjoyed the blog!

Gina said...

Hi everyone, I'm new here. Came over from Andrea's email blast. This may seem weird, but do you feel self-conscious acting things out, or speaking out loud? I'm afraid I would get so caught up in that part, I wouldn't really be listening to myself. But then, maybe practice makes perfect?

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Kat! Hey all my PP friends!

I love hearing how you and your cowriter acted out the scenes for your book. It was probably great fun!

However, I'm thinking there are whole scenes in my books one is better off not acting out! LOL

Talking out loud for dialogue scenes, now there's something I do all the time. I want their conversations to sound right.

Good luck with the YA venture and good luck with your new blog!

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Oh Phyllis, what a good idea - putting yourself in the actual physical scene and taking photos to remember it by. Excellent!

That will definitely help you make the scene more real for your readers. Sometimes it's a little item that splashes the reality into our readers mind, like a greasy fast-food container laying next to the dumpster, with flies swarming over the rotting hamburger inside.

Your photos and first hand experience will call up those little details and slam the reader into the real experience.

One author friend (who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent) dresses up in period costume while writing her historical novels. She says it "Gets her in the mood." But I think it gives her work an authentic feel. She mentions the stays gouging into her ribs at all the right moments.

All part of acting it out. Enjoy!

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Hi Chris K and Patricia,
Thanks for dropping by!

Chris I didn't know you were a Pantser. High five, girl!

Patricia, I'm with you. If I can't SEE a scene I can't write it.

Kathleen Baldwin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris K said...

honey- I define PANTSER !!! lol.

i get a whim of an idea and am surprised by every page i write.

I start out with four friends - next thing I know there's a baby in the back seat and a few pages later the guy on the phone announces he drinks buorbon on the rocks and I shriek - omg THIS is my hero!

or the best is when you're writing a little filler and discover the best character in the book hiding in the fill!! -

I couldn't plot if my life depended on it!!!

that's why I'm smart and hang out with the Princesses!!!

Laura Drake said...

You are so right - bringing your story to life can be fun and hysterical!
I attended Margie Lawson's Masters Immersion Class this year, and we acted out each other's scenes. I have to admit to laughter leakage (hey, I'm an old broad, what can I say?)

What it did though, was show us where we'd forgotten to shut doors, stand up, etc. Staging.

Great post!

Shelley Munro said...

LOL at the great visuals I got while reading your post. you definitely make collaboration sound like lots of fun!

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Loretta, you crack me up!

How fun. Your comment would make an interesting short story - writer acting out an attack scene and the neighbors looking in the window think its real. Were the police called?

Would the cops believe it was all an act? I don't know. They get called to so many real domestic violence scenes and people try to lie their way out.

So many questions.

Or what about this... what if a husband suggests his writer wife act out the scene, but it's all an entrapment ploy. When the police arrive he claims she attacked him. Maybe he had conveniently banged his head on the corner of the coffee table and that little dribble of blood cinches it for the cops.

Fun comment, Loretta.

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Hi Gina!

Glad you dropped by. YES, absolutely, I sometimes I feel self-conscious when I start the out loud stuff.

Here's how I get out of it. Read aloud the previous scene.

Reading it aloud does two things. It plunges me into that world. It's gets me in the flow of the characters. By the time I get to the new part I'm there - in that world.

If it still feels too cornball to say aloud. It might actually be too cornball. This is a good way to weed out dialogue that doesn't work.

You've probably read Andrea's mystery: A DEADLY HABIT?

If not, check it out. The heroine is pure Andrea. A witty wannabe-nun who's always getting into trouble. Fun from start to finish!

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Yeah, Liz! I agree with Vickie, you are never boring! How could someone who wrote LIVER LET DIE be boring?

Looking forward to reading it

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Hi Susan and Patience!

Thanks for coming to the party here. You guys rule. Awesome writers both of you.

Can't wait to see your next play Susan. Susan didn't say so but she also writes beautiful musicals and sings.

Patience has just finished a fabulous novel I look forward to seeing in print.

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Hi Laura!

Interesting comment. I hadn't thought of that. It does help with knowing what's missing.

And if Margie suggests it it must be a good thing. She's like the Martha Stewart of writing.

Andrea Sisco said...


There isn't much more I can add to what Kat said as it's pretty much how I feel about it.

For me, working and talking it out makes it LIVE! And that's what I need to keep me going. Especially if I, say, want to blow up something and it doesn't really fit, but I sooooo want to blow something up. I read it, and usually realize it doesn't fit.

But I save it, because I know I'll be able to blow up something later.

Karilyn Bentley said...

Hi Kat,
Great advice! I loved ready about your friend hopping all over the room. :)

Have a great evening!

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Good night everyone! You're a fun group.

THANK YOU Vickie and Kathy for being such welcoming hostesses.
This was a lovely experience.

Nancy said...

Kat, I LOVE the blog! I used to act out scenes more than I do now, but your blog reminded me to bring that level of play to writing. Thank you!

Your collaboration with Andrea sounds like it was a blast, and I sure hope IF WISHES WERE KISSES is pubbed soon. It's on my to-buy list now!

Happy playacting!

Nancy Haddock

Sylvia McDaniel said...

Hi Kat,
Great topic, though I'm a complete plotter. Playing was so much fun when we were kids and you brought back many memories. At a workshop in Chicago, I think, an author showed this. She got up and would act out scenes. One thing it really showed was how narrative or introspection can really drag down the story when your actors are just standing there on stage doing nothing. Great post!